Tech study on worker shortage goes nation-wide
By David Nutter
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 17 - January 22, 1998
A nation-wide study by Virginia Tech's Center for Continuing Education is being used as the basis of a multi-million dollar initiative by the Clinton administration to address a shortage of technologically trained workers.
The study, conducted in cooperation with the Information Technology Association of America, showed that the IT worker shortage is large and growing. The current "core" IT workforce is reported to be 3,3545,000, including programmers, systems analysts and computer engineers. The survey showed there are 346,000 vacancies, or 10 percent of today's positions are going unfilled.
The study was released January 12 at the National Information Technology Workforce Convocation in Berkeley, Calif. Attending the news conference were U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley. Linda Leffel, director of program development for continuing education, Mark Schaefermeyer, assistant director for program development, and Robert Frary, professor emeritus, represented the university at the conference.
Within hours of the study's release, Vice President Al Gore issued a statement from the White House pledging some $8 million in new funding to encourage increased worker-training programs. The White House press release also announced the administration would hold four regional town meetings across the country as a way to focus attention on solutions to increase the total number of IT workers.
Despite the prevalence of high-tech clusters such as Silicon Valley or the Research Triangle Park, the study shows that shortages exist throughout the U.S. with comparable vacancy rates across geographic regions.
The Virginia Tech study, conducted by the Center for Survey Research, is based on a stratified random sample and telephone survey of 1,493 companies with more than 100 employees, in both the IT and non-IT industries, conducted last November and December. More than 500 companies participated in the research.
Leffel will also present the results of the study today at "Closing the Gap: A National Forum on the Information Technology Skills Shortage" in Washington, D.C. The conference is sponsored by the University Continuing Education Association.